COVID-19 long-haulers struggle to reclaim their lives

Research from China, Italy and the United States indicates that anywhere from 50% to 80% of those who contract COVID-19 still experience symptoms of what’s come to be called “long COVID” many months after the initial infection with the virus. Xpress talks to patients and health care providers to understand how the phenomenon is affecting lives in Western North Carolina.

Danielle Keeter, co-owner of Mighty Gnome Market Garden

SNAP incentives boost market sales for local farmers

Market managers and vendors at the markets participating in the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project’s Double SNAP initiative, which matches Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits dollar-for-dollar on edible items, saw SNAP transactions nearly triple from 2019 to 2020, and 80% of responding vendors said they’d experienced sales growth due to the program.

Hickory Nut Gap turkeys

WNC’s independen­t poultry farmers persevere through processing challenges

Three years out from the closure of the state’s only USDA-inspected plant for independent farmers, more than 200 North Carolina farms are processing their own poultry. But due to the extra labor and time requirements, many producers statewide are still putting less pastured poultry on the market now than they were in 2017.

Musician April Bennett gets creative in finding her ‘new normal’ 

Instead of a packed house, musician April Bennett and local hip-hop band Lyric played to a nearly empty space at the Orange Peel for the May 15 livestream of Downtown After 5. “It was definitely weird playing in one of the biggest rooms in the city with no people in it except for the staff who were recording it,” she remarks with a laugh. “But I was really glad for that [opportunity]. It was definitely a much-needed morale boost during these crazy, crazy times.”

Pandemic left graduating high school seniors no time to say goodbye

Eligh Ros, a dual-enrollment 12th grader at Martin L. Nesbitt Jr. Discovery Academy, is on track to graduate as part of the class of 2020 with both a high school diploma and some college credit from A-B Tech. Early this spring, he was busy with classes and multiple club activities, his sights set on studying computer science or engineering at Rochester Institute of Technology in New York in the fall, when he suddenly found his life upended by Gov. Roy Cooper’s March 14 executive order to close schools.

Michael Stratton at Fairview Road Resilience Garden

Oakley residents plant seeds of community resilience

Since late March, Michael Stratton, his wife, Amanda, and a small, hardworking steering committee have managed to transform a 4,000-square-foot grassy field near Fairview Road into 15 neat garden beds, which in mid-April were already speckled with green sprouts of onions, potatoes, kale, chard and more. The group plans to donate the produce to food pantries and neighbors in need due to COVID-19.